Player turned pundit Paul Merson believes the first 25 minutes of the game will decide our clash with Leicester City this weekend, and claims an early Arsenal goal could see us run away with the game, as reported by Sky Sports.
The ex-Arsenal star has seen just what the Foxes are capable of, and after witnessing them dismantle Manchester City last weekend knows we’ll need to be at our best. While the retired star admits we’re a far better side than Leicester, he suggests the way both teams set up could massively benefit the league leaders.
“Arsenal have to win this game for me but they are set up perfectly for Leicester, exactly the same as Man City were last week,” Merson said.
“Arsenal will have loads of the ball and then bang, Leicester will hit them on the counter.
“Leicester absolutely slaughtered City so Arsenal have got to be careful. They are nowhere near as good a team as Arsenal but they play a certain way which can majorly hurt them.
“This game will come down to how the first 25 minutes pans out.
“If Arsenal score early I fancy them to run away with it but if they don’t I fancy Leicester. Arsenal will continue to bomb forward for a goal and that plays right into the hands of the league’s best counter attacking side.
“However, having said that, Arsenal’s class should prevail, but it wouldn’t shock me one iota if Leicester won.”
We’re currently the only team who have beaten Leicester at the King Power Stadium, and can hopefully do the league double over Claudio Ranieri’s side with a win at the Emirates too. It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing in the reverse fixture, and the pace of Jamie Vardy combined with our insistence on committing our full-backs to the attack left us exposed on a number of occasions. A hat-trick from Alexis Sanchez ensured we got a dominant 5-2 win though, and we could certainly do with a repeat performance from the Chilean this weekend.
Leicester are arguably the best counter-attacking team in the league at the moment, and we have to respect that. Arsene Wenger has a habit of sticking with his own tactics rather than adapting to his opposition, and that could potentially cost us on Sunday. A conservative defensive display may pay off, especially if we can nick a goal while remaining solid at the back. If we take the lead then Leicester will be forced onto the back foot, and we can then do the counter attacking once they begin committing men forward.
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Hopefully Merson is right, and our quality shows this weekend and we manage to get the win. A loss would be catastrophic, but a win would put us right back in the thick of things.